This was Venice, the flattering and suspect beauty – this city, half fairy tale and half tourist trap, in whose insalubrious air the arts once rankly and voluptuously blossomed, where composers have been inspired to lulling tones of somniferous eroticism.
[ Thomas Mann, Death in Venice ]
Ready for a tale of sea, ancient walls and gondolas?
On the morning of June 1st the sun came back, and so did my wish to see Venice again after 3 years. So, 280km, one motorbike, several bottles of water and a wardrobe change later, my whole body vibrated with delight when I crossed the Calatrava glass bridge and laid eyes on this:
I’ve been to many places and I was lucky enough to experience different cultures, see traces of history marrying contemporary worlds, but nothing compares to the moment your eyes widen in wonder in front of Venice. You see, I’ve been avidly reading it’s history: La Serenissima (such poetic way of calling a republic) fascinated me as long as I can remember. Perhaps partially due to the fact that it’s traces are plainly visible in Montenegro’s coast where I spent my childhood and teenager years, and perhaps it is simply because of the beauty of it’s architecture – but I dreamt of seeing Venice with eyes wide open my whole life.
The first time was, weirdly enough, around 3 years ago when we went to surprise an English friend of ours whose wonderful girlfriend alerted us they would be coming for his birthday. That day passed in a blur, but I still remember the feeling of overwhelming delight that overcome me. You could say that day I was an ingenue tourist looking at everything with wonder, but yesterday I was (I hope) a more mature woman who came back without distractions just to see an old friend – the city itself.
I’ve only seen Venice on good days, meaning there was sunshine and no high waters. I am sure that Venetian friends would object to all of my romanticism, and they would surely be right: humidity and sea invading your house isn’t an easy thing to live with.
But the windows? Are you seeing that?
I did not take a gondola to move around, I confess. I find the prices of those lovely things to be absurd, and frankly it’s a tourist trap anyway. Still I do admire their poetry, and the cheeky attitude of the gondoliers with their striped clothes: half of the time I don’t understand a single word they say (they speak in Venetian dialect) but eyes talk, smiles talk, and I just go along with the pretense that they aren’t just trying to get as many tourists in as they can. A girl needs her ’50s movies poetry, you know?
Yes, the kitsch thing is that they are shiny and new, but I am sure that the sheer delight of a unique prospective from the water, looking up to the palaces, will be more than enough to compensate for that… and the gondolier singing. 😀
Il ponte dei Sospiri, one of the most romantic places in Venice. “The Bridge of Sighs” has truly nothing romantic in it’s history, the sighs were those of the prisoners being conducted to their judgements – but who cares, the Asian tourists were happily taking selfies with their selfie sticks all over it. Love wins, y’all!
Of course, the whole city is a tourist trap. When I travel, I like to stop in a lovely small restaurant (I confess that I’m an obsessive TripAdvisor addict… but sometimes I give in to instincts and just go wherever I please) and try some local goodies, but in Venice that is simply impossible. Every single restaurant is fake, serves God-awful food straight out of microwave or freezer, and I am sickened by every waiter that stands on the street throwing “pizza? spaghetti?” looks at me. Everything in Venice is more expensive for outsiders, starting with public transportation ( 7-8 times more than what it costs for the locals) and ending with food. That certainly ruins it for everyone, but it’s just the way it is.
Yesterday I chose to walk around, and I refused to eat until I came across a little Jewish bakery in the ghetto that produced the most scrumptious pastrami sandwich I ever tried. I was completely impressed with the Jewish ghetto: just a street away from the tourist hell, so quiet and so beautiful, with lovely antiques shops, the above mentioned bakery and a couple of restaurants (I’m a sucker for Jewish food!!).
The sellers on these carts are usually Pakistani guys, and the fruit is good – it’s an excellent healthy alternative to getting ripped off with frozen food.
Oh, hello! Here’s yours truly soaking up the sun 🙂
While I was walking the narrow streets and happily snapping away with my camera, at one point my husband laughed and took it away from me, saying: ” Please stop taking pictures, and just LOOK at it!” How right he was! It is completely useless to try taking pictures of everything. There just isn’t a bad angle in Venice, the whole city looks almost fake from how gorgeously authentic it is. Even the humidity damages on the walls are amazing!
(sorry Venetians, I know I’m irritating you 😀 )
The city is an amazing example of what reading can do to you: even though I knew perfectly well just how much of a tourist trap it is, with all the trimmings, I was enthralled and bewitched by the sound of history emanating from it’s walls.
I called this “My new favorite shop in the world”: it only sells horrifying things I would never by, very kitsch, but it is absolutely amazing and I couldn’t stop staring!
Every single cliché, I spoke about it enthusiastically. Casanova? Yes baby! Masque balls? Bring it! Romance in gondolas? Absolutely! 😀
If you consider my husband is the most well-read person I know, you can imagine his laughter all day long in realizing he thought he was bringing his 34 years old wife there, but all along he had a teenager with stars in her eyes 😀
A villa window tale of romance, anyone? No one? 😀
What beauty lies behind these doors?
Now, while it is easy to enjoy the obvious beauty of a sunny (and not too hot) day on a seaside city, I would be extremely curious to see how Venice looks in autumn. I wonder whether the tourist circus ever diminishes (wishful thinking!), and how would it be to listen to Albinoni’s Adagio, roaming the streets and thinking of Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice. Being a drama queen I am (hey, I’m a lady, i’m allowed to be one!) that would truly give me a kick, aside from inspiring some seriously dramatic outfits. Is anyone else feeling a floor-length gown coming right up? 😀
As Google will gladly say to you, this is Saint Marc’s square, or piazza. It’s the most iconic and famous place to be, and yesterday it was surreal. Why?
You see, there are a number of cafés in that square with numerous tables outside, and some of them have live music like it should be: musicians in white suits, piano, violins, the whole thing. But despite the heat and the sun, there wasn’t a single person at those tables. Why? Well, let’s just say that nobody likes to pay the equivalent of a lunch in a Milanese restaurant for coffe, a cold tea and “the music supplement”. Yes darlings, we do have that, and it’s quite pricey.
The fact that Venice lacks in benches (should I say, has none?) should incentivate people sitting and drinking water in order not to dehydrate, but I saw literally nobody. Perhaps it’s time to revise the prices, Venice bars?
It was impossible not to get inspired while looking at that much beauty.
I haven’t been present on the site as I would have wanted: I have had an intense couple of months with some good, and some truly bad issues. But yesterday I felt the need to get back to writing and interacting with my followers / readers. Traveling and being exposed to other reality than your own house walls will do that to you, no?
In fact, that seems to be my solution to every kind of grievance or worry: travel. Get my bike out, feel the speed, feel the road, and let my senses flow freely.
I spent around 5 hours walking and I admit I was too tired to even think about going to one of the islands around the city, but next time we meet, Venice – I will give in to the madness and rent a boat just to enjoy the view from the other side.
My faithful companions for the day, maiolica Dolce & Gabbana bag and Dior sunglasses. Next time around, I’m adding a parasole or a huge hat – my advice to you too!
This city’s name, La Serenissima, The Most Serene – truly lives up to expectations. A serenity, a calm and a feeling of love descends upon it’s visitors, or at least upon those who are willing to experience it without using Google, various advisers, just roaming around and smelling, feeling, listening. Sure enough, there are issues and negative things you will see – like in any city in reality – but one thing is sure, you will never forget the eternal city on water.
SKIRT: DOLCE & GABBANA
SHOES AND BAG: DOLCE & GABBANA
PHOTOGRAPHY: ALL PERSONAL.